President Trump said Thursday that he will officially declare the opioid crisis a "national emergency" and pledged to ramp up government efforts to combat the epidemic.
"The opioid crisis is an emergency. And I am saying officially right now: It is an emergency, it's a national emergency. We're going to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money on the opioid crisis," Trump told reporters during a brief question-and-answer session ahead of a security briefing Thursday at his golf course in Bedminster, NJ.
The president also said he'd be drawing up documents to formalize the declaration soon. He added that the opioid crisis extends beyond the U.S., calling the epidemic a "worldwide problem."
"You know when I was growing up they had the LSD and they had certain generations of drugs," Trump said. "There’s never been anything like what’s happened to this country over the last four or five years. And I have to say this in all fairness, this is a worldwide problem, not just a United States problem."
A drug commission convened by Trump and led by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie recently called on Trump to declare a national emergency to help deal with the growing crisis. An initial report from the commission noted that the approximately 142 deaths each day from drug overdoses mean the death toll is "equal to September 11th every three weeks."
Trump received a briefing on the report earlier this week during his 17-day working vacation in New Jersey.
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price seemed to suggest after that same briefing on Tuesday that the president was leaning against the recommendation, arguing that the administration could deploy the necessary resources and attention to deal with the crisis without declaring a national emergency.
Still, Price stressed that "all things" were "on the table for the president."
Trump said Thursday that the nation's addiction to opioids is "a serious problem, the likes of which we have never had."